A Regrettable Omission

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Dear Friends: The January/February 2016 issue of Western Friend included a short essay by me, “The Original Quaker Peace Testimony.” In that essay I challenged the view of the Quaker Peace Testimony held by most contemporary Friends: that it is identical with pacifism, as commonly understood.  My argument drew not only upon my own research and reflection, but also upon the work of a Quaker scholar who is much more versed in the history of the Peace Testimony than I am: Lonnie Valentine, a member of the faculty at the Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana.  He authored what I regard as the most authoritative historical account of the Quaker Peace Testimony – “Quakers, War, and Peacemaking” – which is included in an immensely valuable new volume of Quaker Studies, The Oxford Handbook of Quaker Studies, edited by Stephen W. Angell and Pink Dandelion. My personal conversations with Lonnie added to the understanding I gained from reading his article.

In the first draft of my short essay, I cited Lonnie Valentine’s work as a significant resource for my own argument.  As is often the case, however, it was necessary to condense the essay to fit the space limitations of Western Friend.  Unfortunately, that condensation eliminated any mention of my indebtedness to Lonnie, leaving the impression that my arguments were drawn wholly from my own research. At no point did the essay credit Lonnie Valentine for his contribution to my thinking.  I take full responsibility for this regrettable omission.

I have been haunted by my failure to ensure that Lonnie receive due credit for his contribution to my essay.  This letter is an attempt to make good that omission.  I would only add that every Friends’ Meeting that can afford it should own a copy of The Oxford Handbook of Quaker Studies, which is a treasure trove of informed research on Quakerism – past, present and future.

– Steve Smith, Claremont Friends Meeting (PYM)